FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- An old “Warrior” handed the reins to a new leader after a long, accomplished career in Army Aviation.

Col. Russell E. Stinger relinquished his command of the 110th Aviation Brigade to Col. Kevin J. Christensen during a change of command ceremony at Howze Field June 30.

Christensen is a recent graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and he previously served in the G3 plans of the U.S. Army Europe in Heidelberg, Germany, and as the senior Aviation trainer for Joint Multinational Training Command.

Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, welcomed Christensen to the installation and described for those in attendance the level of difficulty being the commander of the “Warriors” entails.

“I’m so happy to have (Christensen) on the team,” he said. “I expect (him) to be able to train our Soldiers to (make an impact) on the battlefield. It’s not an easy job. Imagine training your children to drive a car every day, but in this case the cars are helicopters and they have to break contact with the ground. I know he’s up to the task.”

Christensen said he was honored to take command of the brigade and added he planned to keep up the tradition of excellence it’s known for.

“This is an outstanding unit,” he said. “It’s a solid, high-performing team of Soldiers, civilians, contractors and their Families. This brigade will continue to train the world’s best combat Aviators to support our (military) wherever the battle may take us.”

Stinger said it was a tough day for him in relinquishing command, but he knew the day was coming and he added his time with the brigade had been “amazing.”

“There’s been a great many improvements to how we train and it comes down to the people in the brigade working hard day after day,” he said. “The professionals in this brigade killed the training backlog by drowning it in the sweat of their hard work. I couldn’t have handpicked or been luckier with the crew the Army gave me.”

Stinger said he believes the brigade is in good hands and will continue to accomplish great things in the future.

Crutchfield said Stinger will be missed, not just as a commander, but as a friend and battle buddy.

“The dedication and skill of pilots (in the field) comes from here and that’s the impact (Stinger) has developed here,” he said. “Your importance to the mission has nothing to do with your proximity to the battlefield.”

Stinger now retires with his Family to Fort Knox, Ky.